BREAKING NEWS: Dublin: David Norris Withdraws From Presidental Campaign: UPDATED

2 Aug

MOST RECENT NEWS UPDATE:

STATEMENT:

Firstly, let me say that I am overwhelmed by the good wishes I have received from the four corners of Ireland.

I would like to offer my grateful thanks and appreciation to all of my team which was composed of over 300 volunteers from across this country.

I would like to say that I respect and understand the decisions taken by the team and this has not in any way altered my appreciation for their contribution to the campaign.

I deeply regret the most recent of all the controversies concerning my former partner of twenty five years ago, Ezra Nawi.

The fallout from his disgraceful behaviour has now spread to me and is in danger of contaminating others close to me both in my political and personal life. It is essential that I act decisively now to halt this negative process.

I do not regret supporting and seeking clemency for a friend, but I do regret giving the impression that I did not have sufficient compassion for the victim of Ezra’s crime.

I accept that more than a decade and a half later when I have now reviewed the issue, and am not emotionally involved, when I am not afraid that Ezra might take his own life, I see that I was wrong.
He served his time and never offended again.

Yes, his actions were terrible but my motivation to write the letter was out of love and concern.

I was eager to support someone who had been very important in my life.

I have been involved in many campaigns and have written many hundreds of letters on behalf of people in every Continent – persecuted Tibetan monks, East Timorese, death row prisoners in the US.

As a Senator I have always been an active and vibrant voice for those vulnerable and marginalised in society.

So it is very sad that in trying to help a person I loved dearly I made a human error.

Finally I would like to give my thanks to you, the Irish people.

Thank you for your support and helping me in the times that I have succeeded and in times of difficulty.

So here I am today outside my home where all my great journeys have begun to announce the end of my presidential campaign.

This has been a most wonderful experience despite the trauma and energy expended.

I have had the opportunity to visit every corner of this great country of ours and to bear witness to the wonderful work done by the Irish people in difficult circumstances.

I believe that I can point to two significant achievements as a result of my entry into the race.

Whatever doubt there may have been about the holding of an election was ended by my determined candidacy.

The presidency of Ireland belongs to the people and not any party or sectional interest.

Secondly, this process has thrown up issues that make it clear that the whole question of the way in which candidates are nominated must be examined urgently by the government, a commitment given by all the parties in 1998 but never acted upon.

I have also demonstrated that it is now possible for a gay person to be seen as a viable candidate for the highest office in the land.

I would have loved to have had the opportunity as president of Ireland to extend that to the service of the entire people but that is no longer possible.

The election is now entering a new phase of reality and I hope that it will be conducted in a way that is dignified and respectful of the office of President and of the remaining candidates.

At the beginning of my campaign I pledged that I would fight exclusively on what I saw as my strengths and what I could contribute to the welfare of the Irish people.

I believe that I have done so with the dignity and decorum that would be rightly expected of any presidential candidate.

It has always been a principle of mine not to yield control of my life or my principles to others.

The recent frenzy threatened to erode that principle and it is now time for me to reassert as far as possible control of my life and destiny.

As I came across the Samuel Beckett bridge today into my mind came his words about humanity and frailty.

‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’

Senator David Norris

———-

David Norris has announced that he is to withdraw from the presidential campaign.

 David Norris - Deeply regrets recent controversy

David Norris – Deeply regrets recent controversy
 
Senator David Norris has announced that he is to withdraw from the presidential campaign.

The Senator made the announcement at a press conference in Dublin.

Mr Norris said he deeply regrets the most recent of all the controversies concerning his former partner of 25 year ago, Ezra Nawi.

Mr Norris said the fallout from his disgraceful behaviour has now spread to him and is in danger of contaminating others close to him both in his political and personal life.

He said it is essential that he acts decisively to end this negative process.

Senator Norris says he does not regret supporting and seeking clemency for a friend, but he does regret giving the impression that he did not have sufficient compassion for the victim of Ezra’s crime.

The Senator says he now accepts that more than a decade-and-a-half later when he has reviewed the issue – and is not emotionally involved, when he is not afraid that Ezra might take his own life – he sees that he was wrong.

He said Mr Nawi served his time and never offended again, but Mr Norris said his actions were terrible.

David Norris said his motivation to write the letter was out of love and concern, saying he was eager to support someone who was very important in his life.

Mr Norris said he was involved in many campaigns and has written many hundreds of letters on behalf of people in every continent.

As a Senator, he said, he has been an active voice for those vulnerable and marginalised in society.

He said it was very sad that in trying to help a person he loved dearly, he made a human error.

Announcing the end of his Presidential campaign, Mr Norris said it had been a most wonderful experience despite the trauma and energy expended.

He said the Presidency of Ireland belonged to the people and not any party or sectional interest.

He said he has demonstrated that it is now possible to be a viable candidate for the highest office in the land.

The Senator said that at the beginning of his campaign he would fight exclusively on what he saw as his strengths and what he could contribute to the welfare of the Irish people.

He said he believes that he has done so with the dignity and decorum that would be rightly expected of any presidential candidate.

It had always been a principle of his not to yield control of his life or his principles to others.

Mr Norris said the recent frenzy threatened to erode that principle and it is now time for him to re-assert as far as possible control of his life and destiny.

Pressure on Norris to withdraw

Earlier, Barnardos Chief Executive Fergus Finlay said he believes Senator David Norris should announce he is no longer seeking a nomination for the presidency.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Finlay, who failed to secure the Labour Party nomination for the presidency, said: ‘You simply cannot use public office to try to influence a court in the particular situation that pertained in this case, it is simply not acceptable’.

Mr Finlay said that for the sake of the contribution Mr Norris can still make to public life ‘he needs to announce in a dignified fashion that he is withdrawing from the race’.

He added that if this was a letter written by a bishop about a priest or a minister about a constituent, then ‘David would be among those people calling on that bishop or minister to resign’.

Speaking on the News at One, Mary Banotti, who contested the 1997 Presidential election, said she believed that Senator Norris should abandon his campaign.

She said she believed that he made a ‘fatal mistake’ by not telling his staff about the letters.

It emerged on Saturday, that in 1997 Senator Norris wrote a letter on Seanad notepaper to an Israeli court pleading clemency for his former partner, who had been found guilty of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy.

In the wake of the revelation, Mr Norris said he remained committed to his campaign for the presidency, but admitted that his chances of securing an official nomination were now ‘slim’.

In a statement released today the Israeli embassy that: ‘Allegations made in the media by some Irish public figures that the Embassy was involved in the publication of a letter written by Senator David Norris to a court in Israel have absolutely no foundation’.

The statement added that successive Israeli ambassadors to Ireland have enjoyed a ‘friendly, if combative and mutually critical, relationship’ with Mr Norris over the years, and that there is much admiration in Israel for his work on human rights and reform of laws relating to homsexuality.

Three independent TDs had announced that they were withdrawing their support for Senator Norris.

Waterford Deputy John Halligan says he thinks the Senator should have made more of an effort to explain the letter.

Dublin North-Central TD Finian McGrath – who had been co-ordinating Senator Norris’s campaign – and Donegal South-West Deputy Thomas Pringle have also withdrawn their backing for Mr Norris.

However, Independent Dublin-Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan said she was continuing to support Senator Norris because of his record on human rights and equality issues.

————-

Senator David Norris has announced that he is to withdraw from the presidential campaign.

Senator David Norris has withdrawn from the Presidential campaign following the controversy over letters he wrote to the Israeli authorities.

It emerged last weekend that Mr Norris wrote a letter in 1997 to the Israeli authorities pleading for clemency for his former partner Ezra Yitzhak Nawi who had been convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy.

Mr Norris’s campaign suffered a serious blow last night when three Independent TDs withdrew their pledge to support the Trinity Senator’s nomination.

Other members of the Dáil and Seanad who had pledged support for Mr Norris are also considering their position in the light of the disclosure that the Senator wrote a letter pleading for leniency for his former partner.

Mr Norris held a press conference in Dublin this afternoon to inform supporters he was withdrawing from the race.

“My motivation to write the letter was out of love and concern. I was eager to support someone who has been very important and continues to be important in my life,” he said.

Several key members of the senator’s campaign team resigned late last week as details of the letter emerged.

Dublin TD Finian McGrath said yesterday he could no longer support the nomination. Expressing deep regret for his decision, he said “children and the presidency have to come first”. Mr McGrath was the co-ordinator of the campaign to get the backing of 20 Oireachtas members for Mr Norris’s nomination.

Mr McGrath said the content of letters sent by Mr Norris had been key to his decision. “It was a very, very tough decision for me to make. But I had to put the interests and the protection of children first and I had to put the integrity of the Irish presidency first,” he said.

Waterford TD John Halligan also announced he was withdrawing his support, as did Donegal South West TD Thomas Pringle.

“I believe Senator Norris is a decent man and I acknowledge the great work he has done for the less well-off in our society, particularly on civil rights issues,” said Mr Halligan. “However, I feel it was a great error of judgment on his part.” 

Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly, who had also been supporting Mr Norris’s bid, today said the details which had emerged at the weekend were “very serious” and that he did not approve of how the Senator had made the representations.

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said today Mr Norris should announce he is no longer seeking a nomination for the presidency.

Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell told The Irish Times  yesterday that she had a lengthy conversation with Mr Norris and had “made him aware what I feel about the situation”. Senator Mary Ann O’Brien is also considering her position.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a number of letters written by Mr Norris on behalf of Mr Nawi have not come into the public domain. Ex-campaign workers said he wrote letters appealing for clemency for Mr Nawi to a range of public figures in Israel and beyond. After they were shown the letters last Thursday a number of Mr Norris’s campaign team resigned.

Separately, the Israeli embassy in Dublin said allegations it had been involved in the publication of the letter written by Mr Norris to the court in Israel had “absolutely no foundation”.

In a statement, the embassy said: “No such letter was or is in the possession of the embassy; as in Ireland, the judicial system in democratic Israel is entirely separate from the Government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

 
 David Norris - Holding news conference today

David Norris – Holding news conference today
 
 Fergus Finlay - Believes Mr Norris should withdraw bid for nomination

Fergus Finlay – Believes Mr Norris should withdraw bid for nomination
 
 

Earlier, Barnardos Chief Executive Fergus Finlay said he believes Senator David Norris should announce he is no longer seeking a nomination for the presidency.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Finlay, who failed to secure the Labour Party nomination for the presidency, said: ‘You simply cannot use public office to try to influence a court in the particular situation that pertained in this case, it is simply not acceptable’.

Mr Finlay said that for the sake of the contribution Mr Norris can still make to public life ‘he needs to announce in a dignified fashion that he is withdrawing from the race’.

He added that if this was a letter written by a bishop about a priest or a minister about a constituent, then ‘David would be among those people calling on that bishop or minister to resign’.

Speaking on the News at One, Mary Banotti, who contested the 1997 Presidential election, said she believed that Senator Norris should abandon his campaign.

She said she believed that he made a ‘fatal mistake’ by not telling his staff about the letters.

It emerged on Saturday, that in 1997 Senator Norris wrote a letter on Seanad notepaper to an Israeli court pleading clemency for his former partner, who had been found guilty of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy.

In the wake of the revelation, Mr Norris said he remained committed to his campaign for the presidency, but admitted that his chances of securing an official nomination were now ‘slim’.

In a statement released today the Israeli embassy that: ‘Allegations made in the media by some Irish public figures that the Embassy was involved in the publication of a letter written by Senator David Norris to a court in Israel have absolutely no foundation’.

The statement added that successive Israeli ambassadors to Ireland have enjoyed a ‘friendly, if combative and mutually critical, relationship’ with Mr Norris over the years, and that there is much admiration in Israel for his work on human rights and reform of laws relating to homsexuality.

Three independent TDs have announced that they are withdrawing their support for Senator Norris.

Waterford Deputy John Halligan says he thinks the Senator should have made more of an effort to explain the letter.

Dublin North-Central TD Finian McGrath – who had been co-ordinating Senator Norris’s campaign – and Donegal South-West Deputy Thomas Pringle have also withdrawn their backing for Mr Norris.

However, Independent Dublin-Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan said she was continuing to support Senator Norris because of his record on human rights and equality issues.

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